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Written by Julie W
(Wednesday, 14 January 2009, at 5:13 a.m.)
Out two letters for today's consideration find JA visiting Kent: first her brother Edward's home , Godmersham Park near Faversham and then his wife Elizabeth's (Nee Bridges) family at the Goodnestone Park Estate also in Kent.
Above is a picture of Godmersham: you can see that whilst no Pemberley, it was a relatively grand country home of a gentleman.
You might be interested to note that during the summer whilst attending an historic cookery course I met a woman who was singulalry convinced that JA had no exposure to "high society" and never ate luxuroius food: I think she must have been too influcend by Mr Woodhouses' avowed preference for gruel ;-)
However, I was able to correct her. On her trips to Godmersham , Goodnestone and visiting Henry and Eliza in London, JA knew what the high life was like.
Our visit to Eastwell was very agreeable; I found Ly. Gordon's manners as pleasing as they had been described, and saw nothing to dislike in Sir Janison, excepting once or twice a sort of sneer at Mrs. Anne Finch. He was just getting into talk with Elizabeth as the carriage was ordered, but during the first part of the visit he said very little. Your going with Harriot was highly approved of by everyone, and only too much applauded as an act of virtue on your part. I said all I could to lessen your merit. The Mrs. Finches were afraid you would find Goodnestone very dull; I wished when I heard them say so that they could have heard Mr. E. Bridges' solicitude on the subject, and have known all the amusements that were planned to prevent it. They were very civil to me, as they always are; fortune was also very civil to me in placing Mr. E. Hatton by me at dinner. Letter 45As a result of Edward's social contacts JA also experinced life in other grand Kent houses. One of these was Eastwell Park the home of Mr and Mrs Finch Hatton.Mr Finch-Hatton was the M.P for Rochester , Kent..
Interestingly, this house was designed by one Joseph Bomomi, whose work is slighted by the obnoxious Robert Ferrars in S+S:
"For my own part," said he, "I am excessively fond of a cottage; there is always so much comfort, so much elegance about them. And I protest, if I had any money to spare, I should buy a little land and build one myself, within a short distance of London, where I might drive myself down at any time, and collect a few friends about me, and be happy. I advise everybody who is going to build, to build a cottage. My friend Lord Courtland came to me the other day on purpose to ask my advice, and laid before me three different plans of Bonomi's. I was to decide on the best of them. 'My dear Courtland,' said I, immediately throwing them all into the fire, 'do not adopt either of them, but by all means build a cottage.' And that, I fancy, will be the end of it. Chapter 36
From the fact that the idioitic Robert Ferrars derides his work, I think we can take it that JA approved of him, ...;-)
Here is a little background information about him. He was born on 19 January 1739 in Rome, the eldest of five children of Giovanni Giacomo Bonomi, agent to some of the Roman nobility, and his wife, Teresa Corbi. He studied at the Collegio Romano, and, according to his son Ignatius, writing in 1808, having as a child ‘employed himself … in endeavouring to solve architectural problems’ he was placed under Antonio Asprucci , architect to Prince Borghese. He studied also with Girolamo Teodoli and possibly received tuition in drawing from Charles-Louis Clérisseau.
About 1763 James Adam, then on his grand tour in Rome, saw some of Bonomi's work, including drawings in competition for a gold medal in architecture, and engaged him to work exclusively for the Adam brothers in drawing Roman antiquities.
In 1767 Robert and James Adam invited Bonomi to Britain, where he worked as a draughtsman in their London office until 1781. Bonomi left the Adams in 1781 and set up as an independent architect. He prepared designs dated 1782, all apparently unexecuted, for several clients, including his later patrons the bluestocking Elizabeth Montagu and the fourth earl of Aylesford. Bonomi exhibited regularly at the Royal Academy from 1783. In 1789, after several attempts, he was elected an associate on the casting vote of the president, Sir Joshua Reynolds. He died at home at 76 Great Titchfield Street, London, on 9 March 1808, and was buried in Marylebone churchyard.
As to his work....You will note that JA's acquaintance, Mr Finch Hatton the owner of Eastwell,did in fact commission Bonomi to aggrandise his house.
In his designs Bonomi turned away from the Adam brothers' elaborate delicacy, producing stronger and more chaste designs which possibly reflect the influence of James Wyatt (with whom he occasionally collaborated) and Henry Holland.
I find it really intriguing that JA picked up all these tiny details of her life and then sprinkled them throughout her works, don't you?
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